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Blog Post

Publishers and Authors Ask to Delay Google Hearing to Negotiate New Settlement

Consumer Watchdog says copyright Issues for Congress, not closed-door deals

Publisher and author associations sought today to cancel a key hearing in the Google Books case to allow private negotiations with Google over digitizing books online. Consumer Watchdog warned that important issues affecting copyright law should not be negotiated behind closed doors.

Notice of the motion was filed in U.S. District Court today after the Department of Justice raised objections to the proposed Google Books deal late last Friday. The nonpartisan, nonprofit Consumer Watchdog had also filed an amicus brief opposing the settlement. A hearing was scheduled before Judge Denny Chin on Oct. 7, but the publishers and authors associations said they are negotiating a new deal with Google and claimed it would make no sense for a hearing until that is reached.

Read the publishers and authors filing here.

Consumer Watchdog said the settlement cannot be approved in the face of antitrust and other objections by Justice and key copyright issues must be settled by Congress in a fully public process.

"Essentially Google and the authors and publishers groups are back at square one and must re-negotiate the deal," said John M. Simpson, a consumer advocate with Consumer Watchdog. "But important copyright issues shouldn't be settled in closed-door negotiations among parties in a private suit. Questions like how to handle 'orphan works' are issues that must be resolved through Congressional action."

Orphan works are works under copyright, but with the rights holders unknown or not found. The risk of using such works is that a rights holder will emerge after the book has been exploited and demand substantial infringement penalties. The original settlement would have protected Google from such potentially damaging exposure, but provided no protection for others. This effectively is a barrier for competitors to enter the digital book business.

Consumer Watchdog asked the Justice Department last April to intervene in the Google Books settlement because of antitrust concerns. The law firm of Kasowitz, Benson filed an amicus brief in New York's Southern U.S. District Court opposing the deal on Consumer Watchdog's behalf. On Sept. 10 Simpson was one of eight witnesses to testify about the deal to the House Judiciary Committee.

Read the Department of Justice brief here.

Read Consumer Watchdog's amicus brief here.

Read the testimony and see a video of the Judiciary hearing here.

The case in U.S. District Court's Southern District of New York stems from a suit brought by The Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers.

Consumer Watchdog, formerly the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan consumer advocacy organization with offices in Washington, DC and Santa Monica, Ca. Our website is www.consumerwatchdog.org.

Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman LLP is a national law firm with over 300 lawyers specializing in high stakes, complex litigation. The firm has offices in New York, Newark, Houston, Atlanta, Miami and San Francisco. For more information, visit www.kasowitz.com. Contact: Daniel Fetterman, 212-506-1934, [email protected] or Peter Toren, 212-506-1986, [email protected].

More Stories By Fuat Kircaali

Fuat Kircaali is the founder and chairman of SYS-CON Media, Cloud Expo, Inc. and Ulitzer, Inc.

Kircaali came to the United States from Zurich University, Switzerland in 1984 while studying for his PhD, to design computer systems for SH-2G submarine hunter helicopters for the U.S. Navy. He later worked at IBM's IS&CG Headquarters as a market research analyst under Mike Armstrong's leadership, an IBM executive who later ran IBM Europe and AT&T; and Fuat was the Director of Information Systems for UWCC, reporting to CEO Steve Silk (later Hebrew National CEO), one of the top marketing geniuses of the past two decades.

Kircaali founded SYS-CON Media in 1994, a privately held tech media company with sales exceeding $100 million. SYS-CON Media was listed twice by Inc 500 and Deloitte and Touche as one of the fastest-growing companies in North America. Kircaali launched Ulitzer, Inc., a revolutionary "new media" start-up in mid 2009.

Fuat completed Bogazici University Business Administration program in 1982 with a Bachelor's Degree. He was one of 50 students accepted to the program out of over 1 million high school graduates that year.

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